Johnson & Johnson was looking for a way to offer more value to its customers, address unmet healthcare and medical needs in emerging markets, and simplify interactions with its customer base across three different sectors.
Ong Ai Hua, president of ONE Johnson & Johnson Southeast Asia, discusses how the One J&J initiative transformed the way the company engages its customers, as well as the way it approaches talent development and retention.
Q: Tell us about the One J&J initiative.
Johnson & Johnson is traditionally divided into three large businesses: consumer products, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
But we often serve the same customers, such as hospitals. It would be quite common for us to have different teams going to the same hospital. The question was: could we provide more value if we operated as one?
With the ONE J&J initiative, we have been able to streamline how we serve our customers, making processes and the customer relationship more efficient and overall more satisfactory. It is no longer about having product-focused conversations with our hospital and retail channel partners. Rather, it is about discovering their organisational and strategic concerns, needs and objectives. Today, we are able to provide comprehensive solutions to hospitals, retail channel partners, and government and non-government organisations. Our expanded value offering not only includes a wider and richer product portfolio but also educational and awareness programmes that are aligned to the needs and priorities of our stakeholders, and which ultimately enable a lot more patients to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
Q: When did ONE J&J launch?
Committed to placing our customers first and reaching out to patients in more ways than ever before, the idea has always been there, but it always stopped at the discussion level. For a large company that has different businesses organised across different industries yet has common customers, would that model actually create more value? That discussion eventually led to the creation of the ONE J&J initiative in 2014.
Q: How has ONE J&J changed the way the organisation approaches talent development?
We have observed that one year into our integration, there has been a very positive impact on talent, recruitment and retention.
Firstly, with the new go-to-market model, every country has a managing director who has two commercial leaders reporting to him / her for all of retail – baby products, contact lenses, over-the-counter drugs – and a lead for all hospital relationships.
For someone who has been in a J&J career for a long time, his or her career development would have previously been in medical devices, pharmaceuticals or consumer services. With this new structure, someone who is in medical devices can cross over into the hospital and pharmaceutical business, so it has opened up opportunities for our employees to learn and develop themselves further in another field.
Secondly, we are creating more developmental opportunities apart from geographical exposure or location. People who were previously not able to work remotely are now able to experience equally complex roles without relocation, and they’ve never had that opportunity before.
Recruitment-wise, we found that combining functions like finance and HR actually attracted better and more talented people from the marketplace because they would be part of a larger function serving the entire J&J, rather than working with just one sector.
Q: Your employees are based throughout the region, so how do you keep them motivated?
I travel a lot and I believe in face time. We also do town halls on a broadcast basis and do a lot of community work together.
Q: How has ONE J&J been able to provide better value to customers?
Take hospitals as an example. We now organise our hospital operations with the customer at the centre and are able to have a much more intimate discussion with hospital administrators on how they want to differentiate themselves and how J&J can partner and give them the competitive advantage they are seeking.
For example, if a hospital wants to become competitive in the area of maternity services and to be seen as the hospital that gives the best experience of having a baby, this is where we bring in our baby business and partner with the hospital in a multi-sensorial development programme.
Pharmacies are also an important customer group. Many pharmacy chains outside Singapore are seen as community-based centres or family consultants who treat basic illnesses. With One J&J, we are able to provide continuous training to pharmacists across various sectors, ranging from drug safety and digestive health education, to mother and baby programmes and oral programmes, etc.
Q: Will ONE J&J be rolled out globally, or is it unique to Southeast Asia?
We are just starting to see the results we want materialise, so I think we need more time to see how it sticks before making plans to implement this further in the other regions where we operate.
Q: What are some of the challenges you faced when implementing the change in corporate culture?
With integration of this scale, there was bound to be some initial resistance from our employees. However, that is normal human nature. If you have been with a company for many years and your development and career has always been defined by a specific sector, for example, the natural question when change happens is: what does that mean to me? Will my job change?
As the ONE J&J model is a global first for Johnson & Johnson, we had to build confidence within the teams and our valued partners to make this work.
Q: How did you address those challenges?
We helped our team understand this is a journey that we as a company want to take and that this is a journey that we will all go through together. We reassured our employees that no one was going to lose their jobs because of this change and that all involved would be given the appropriate time and training necessary to adapt to our new way of operations. Consistent communications by the regional and leadership teams through townhalls, small group meetings and feedback sessions were organised to reach out, connect and bring about a mindset shift – to operate as one rather than three different sectors.
Q: What was your own personal journey like?
I started out as a sales representative 25 years ago and had very good mentors at J&J to guide me. I was also given the opportunity to take up quite a few roles that allowed me to arrive where I am today. Lastly, I attribute how far I’ve come to hard work.
Q: What does being a female corporate leader mean to you?
“Women hold up half the sky,” as the saying from Chairman Mao goes. If a company can utilise women just as well as it utilises men, they will have a very powerful talent strategy that separates the good from the great.
Q: How would you describe your leadership style?
I am focused, driven and engaged with my team, and I like to bring a bigger purpose and meaning to what we do every day. We are bringing more access to patients and consumers who never had a chance to be treated in the past. That brings out the meaning of why we do what we do.